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Barna examines Americans’ temptations

NASHVILLE (BP) — The writer of Proverbs 6:16-19 lists seven sins the Lord hates, but new Barna research seeks to uncover the sins current mankind loves.

While the Lord is said to hate “a proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren,” only a few of mankind’s most popular temptations fit neatly in the categories of the Proverb.

Among society’s top temptations, gossiping tempts 26 percent of Americans, and lying or cheating tempts 12 percent, according to research by the Barna Group chronicling “Temptations and America’s Favorite Sins,” conducted in conjunction with Todd Hunter’s new book, “Our Favorite Sins.”

“For most American adults, the things they’ll admit to being tempted by are related to work and productivity — but some of the age-old deadly sins show up too,” researchers wrote. “Though, perhaps unsurprisingly, the more serious the temptation, the fewer people admit to struggling with it.”

Regarding temptations that researchers considered “old temptations,” 60 percent of Americans admit to being tempted to procrastinate and worry, 55 percent say they are tempted to overeat, 44 percent claim a temptation to spend too much money, and 41 percent own up to being tempted by laziness.

Researchers placed sins driven by technology in the category of “new temptations,” calculating that 44 percent of Americans are tempted to spend too much time on media, while 11 percent admit a temptation to “go off” on someone via text or email, according to the study.

“It is not surprising the most technologically oriented generation — the Millennials, or Mosaics — are more likely than average to admit to struggling with these temptations of modern technology,” researchers wrote. “More than half of Millennials (53 percent) say they are tempted to over-use screens and one-quarter (25 percent) feel the temptation to use technology to express their anger at others.”

Americans reported other temptations of feeling jealous, 24 percent; viewing pornography, 18 percent; abusing alcohol or drugs, 11 percent; and “doing something sexually inappropriate with someone,” 9 percent.

Half of all respondents said they don’t know why they give in to temptations, according to researchers, with 20 percent saying they sin because they enjoy it, and another 20 percent saying they sin to escape “real life.” Only 1 percent of respondents blamed their failed resolve on human or sinful nature, according to the study.

The study, based on 1,021 online interviews among adults over the age of 18 in each of the 50 United States, also studied differences in temptations based on gender, generation and religion.

While statistics from men and women indicated both genders are almost equally tempted in many areas, 28 percent of men reported being tempted to view pornography or sexually inappropriate content online, compared to only 8 percent of women. Regarding the temptation of gossip, 29 percent of women pleaded guilty, compared to 22 percent of men, researchers said.

Worrying affects 68 percent of women, but only 50 percent of men, according to research; while 58 percent of women and 52 percent of men reported a temptation to overeat. In financial management, 39 percent of women confirmed a temptation to overspend, compared to 32 percent of men.

Other temptations fell almost equally among the genders, including abusing alcohol or drugs, 12 percent of men and 11 percent of women; lying or cheating, 12 percent of women and 11 percent of men; and doing something sexually inappropriate with someone else, 10 percent of men and 8 percent of women, researchers wrote.
Compiled by Baptist Press staff writer Diana Chandler. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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